February 22, Sunday
Immediately following his public baptism, Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, was driven by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil, Satan. He was alone except for the wild beasts that inhabited the region. He had fasted for forty days, so he was very hungry.
That was when the devil tempted Him by suggesting that He command the stones to become bread, adding derisively: “If You are the Son of God.”
Jesus, not taking His cues from the Tempter, quoted Scripture in replying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Next, the devil took Him to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. He, following suit, quoted Scripture to add weight to his temptation, saying, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over You to keep You,’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear You up lest You dash Your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus responded with another Scripture, saying to him, “It is also written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
For his final attempt to get Jesus to submit to his counsel, Satan took Him to a very high mountain from which they could see all the kingdoms of the world and their glory at once. From there he offered Jesus rule over it all, saying, “All this authority and the honors and privileges that come with it will be Yours. Since it has been handed over to me, I can give it to whomever I choose. All You have to do is fall down and worship me, and it’s Yours!”
Jesus’ terse and unequivocal reply was, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’”
Having failed to win Jesus over, Satan left Him until a more opportune time. Then angels came to strengthen Jesus.
Meanwhile, John continued baptizing along the Jordan River. Some of the Jewish religious leaders were sent from Jerusalem to investigate. They asked whether he considered himself to be the Messiah, a reincarnation of Elijah, or perhaps the Prophet predicted in their ancient writings. John flatly denied those roles, saying that the One they were describing was, in fact, among them. He went on to state that the Messiah, although yet to be revealed, had existed long before he had.
It was the very next day that John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One of whom I said, ‘He is greater than I am because He existed before I did.’” John also reminded the crowd that just a few weeks before he had seen the Spirit descend upon Him from heaven in the form of a dove. “God had revealed to me,” he went on to say, “that this would be the visible confirmation of the arrival of the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. I saw it and I’m testifying: here He is, the Son of God.”
The next day Jesus passed the place where John and two of his disciples were standing. John again told them, “There is the Lamb of God.”
Immediately the two disciples of John left him and began to follow Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them coming and asked what they were looking for.
“Where are you staying, Teacher?” they asked.
“Come and see” was Jesus’ reply. So they went along and spent the day with Him. One of them, whose name was Andrew, quickly found his brother, Simon Peter, and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” He brought him to Jesus.
When Jesus met Simon, He said, “So you are Simon, son of Jonah. I will change your name to Cephas (which means stone).”